Americans must be buying a heck of a lot of new cars, because reports released today indicate huge sales increases in August for the Grand Triumvirate of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors as well as a dozen other large automakers.
Chrysler did the most flexing, with all five brands posting significant increases over sales in August 2011. FIAT scored a 34-percent increase while the Chrysler brand improved by 25%. Sales of the all-new 2013 Dart helped push Dodge into the black by 13-percent.
Ford and GM enjoyed similar success, with 13 and 10-percent improvement, respectively. Customers flocked to bigger vehicles like the Explorer, Escape and F-Series, and sales of the Fusion sedan jumped up by 21-percent. GM saw modest but strong growth among all of its brands. Chevrolet shot ahead thanks to its small cars – a strong indication that both quality and customer interest are growing – like the Spark, Sonic and Cruze.
Ford and GM also shared showroom success, with respective 19-percent and 11-percent gains in retail sales. Are customers moving away from online shopping and coming back to the lot? You always have a little more leverage when you come in, because dealers will be more willing to negotiate a price down in order to move inventory. We’ll keep an eye on this number in the future.
One other area where GM made major gains in the electric race. Despite halting production last week, Chevrolet sold a record number of gasoline-electric Volts in August. At 2,831 sales, the Volt wildly outsold its closest competitor, the Nissan LEAF with 685 sales. The question is whether this is a positive or negative trend for the electric market? Demand has shifted to the Volt, but still not at a level to keep GM happy.
As for Nissan as a whole, sales are up 7.6-percent over last year thanks to a strong summer for the new 2013 Altima, which sold 25,800 vehicles in August. In all, Japanese automakers enjoyed a strong month and appear to be back to full strength after last year’s earthquake. Toyota jumped up by 40.2-percent and Infiniti improved by 23.6-percent. Acura increased by a whopping 66.4-percent behind the MDX and RDX crossovers.
Subaru posted a 35-percent gain, but took a beating on the car it shares with Toyota. The Scion FR-S outsold the Subaru BRZ by a three-to-one margin, 1,913 to 623. Toyota has done much more outreach and has a more extensive dealer network, so it makes sense, but it would be great to see Subaru share in some of the hype surrounding the hot new sports car. With the XV Crosstek coming into showrooms this month, Subaru sales should continue to improve rapidly.
Mazda was one of the few automakers to show a decline, taking a 1.8-percent hit. But this may be blamed on the phasing out of the old Mazda6 to make way for the new 2014 Mazda6 sedan. Still, the CX-5 is moving too fast for dealers to keep them in stock and the Mazda3 had a great August. The company’s efficient SKYACTIV engine came in 63-percent of all vehicles sold, so Mazda is wearing that proudly on their sleeve today.
The other large automaker to show a decline is BMW. The luxury hallmark is still up by 7.6-percent over the first eight months of 2011, but fell under the sales of August 2011 by 5.7-percent.
This, of course, is fantastic news for Audi, up 13-percent over August 2011 as they continue to storm their way toward knocking BMW off their pedestal. That’s the goal, anyway, and they still have a ways to go having moved 11,527 vehicles as opposed to 22,553 for BMW.
Still, things are definitely looking up for Audi and parent company Volkswagen, who posted a massive 62.5-percent sales increase over August 2011 behind huge sales of the Jetta and Passat – which jumped up by 3,113.4-percent over last year. You read that right. Last month was the best sales month for Volkswagen since 1973, and cracking the 40,000 mark is a major milestone on the VW path to becoming the world’s largest automaker.
Volvo also posted solid gains, with a 21.2-percent increase led by the S60 sports sedan and XC60 SUV.
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